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THE PACE CHRONICLE

The Award Winning Newspaper Of Pace University

THE PACE CHRONICLE

The Award Winning Newspaper Of Pace University

THE PACE CHRONICLE

Response to BIPOC Mentors Unpaid Since Fall
Response to "BIPOC Mentors Unpaid Since Fall"
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BIPOC Peer Mentors Unpaid Since Fall

Pace+University+Pleasantville+Campus+Involvement+Fair.+Pace.edu
Pace University Pleasantville Campus Involvement Fair. Pace.edu

Updated: Monday, March 18, 2024

Midway into Spring ’24 semester, BIPOC mentors are still having issues getting paid for their work from the previous semester. With the previous director gone, who do we look at to blame – the Office of Multicultural Affairs, or is this a more common issue among students then we’ve been led to believe? 

~ 

As students journey through their college careers, many stumble into great opportunities on campus. Many Pace students find themselves in need of money and this campus has a plethora of mutually benefiticial options to work with – or are supposed to be mutually beneficial. 

A prevalent job among students of color is the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Excelsior Peer Mentor program. Here, incoming minority freshmen are paired with minority upperclassmen to, “assist first-year BIPOC students’ transition to Pace and help them develop the skills to succeed in their first year” as per the still-live application. 

The job gives freshmen the opportunity to connect with an upperclassman similar to themselves and receive guidance on campus. In turn, upperclassmen get a chance to have an impact on their junior’s college experience, while getting paid for their time put in. 

However, this job left out an important detail — lack of adequate payment for the mentors, and terrible communication with the program director in between. 

Some students, although paid late, were compensated for most (if not all) of their time. Others haven’t had the same luck – Maddy Oden, Senior in Public Accounting, is one of 20+ Peer Mentors last semester who had issues with lack of payment from the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA). As of this March, she still has not gotten compensated for the work she did last semester.  

Oden said, “Last semester I was supposed to get paid for the meet and greets we had as well as the training and never received anything for both… I was supposed to get paid at least three times last semester.” 

Late payment was a result of the overarching issue of communication between the BIPOC Peer Mentor program director, Timothy Stanfield, and the mentors. Things like scheduling, and organization were also problems; but guidance was not given when asked. 

“A lot of things were not properly communicated in terms of what we were exactly supposed to be doing… When brought up, the issue was not resolved or even addressed, and the advisor then left so I don’t believe it would be getting addressed.” said Oden. 

Timothy Stanfield, former director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Head of the BIPOC Excelsior Peer Mentor program, silently left Pace University at the end of Fall 2023 semester. His Pace email has since been deactivated; attempts to reach out have been futile.  

“Not getting paid or getting to even do the job caused me to miss out on money I could’ve potentially [gotten] elsewhere” continues Oden. 

Melissa Louis, Senior in Communications, had similar issues midway through her experience as a Peer Mentor last semester. It had taken her weeks to get paid for her work with this program, ultimately having to take things into her own hands to resolve the issue. 

Her issues didn’t fall so much unto the Office of Multicultural Affairs, though, but focused on the difficulties faced when working with HR on the situation. 

This semester, the payment troubles have followed. “I also work as a Tour Guide [starting last semester] but I wouldn’t say this payroll issue is solely the Peer Mentor’s wrongdoing or the Welcome Center. It’s the school’s problem because they aren’t paying students for their hard work.” 

Louis mentions a change in payroll being a potential explanation for this semester’s issues, saying it’s “…put a halt on some things.” 

However, lack of timely payment goes as far back as Spring 2023 semester – and not just with Peer Mentors. Danielle Shoulders, Junior in Environmental Studies, experienced an absence of payment for an entire semester when employed as a work-study assistant in the Office of Multicultural Affairs. 

As a Peer Mentee in Fall 2022 herself, she had noticed that the Peer Mentor program at the time had some turmoil. Eventually, she would be faced with strains herself when getting an assistantship under the same office in Spring 2023. Despite setting up and working out details with HR the previous semester for the position in Spring, Danielle found that when the time to get paid came there was nothing. 

It did not get much better. “So it was my first month of working and I was like, ‘Oh, I still didn’t get paid’. And [OMA] was like, ‘Sometimes HR is pretty slow’, and all this type of stuff. [They said], ‘but don’t worry about it. Like, everyone always gets their money in the end.’ So that’s what I did. I worked another month.”   

From then until the end of the semester, Shoulders worked without payment. When brought up in discussion, the Office of Multicultural Affairs would assure her they’d reach out but never followed up on the issue. “I am from Ohio – my sister was graduating college and I had to go back… I have to pay on my own to go back home. And I was also starting to run out of my own personal funds.” 

“There was a list like an Excel sheet that we had to record our hours and every week that I still have access to and I kept… I would put in my hours and I would show Tim because he was in charge of, like, putting in the hours we could get paid.” 

“I filled out the Excel sheet every week – it’s an Excel sheet that he gave to us. So he could see it. So if you saw the hours I was putting in, then you would know that this is how much I was owed.” 

In this older system of enrolling students into Pace’s payroll, some students relied on their advisors to log their hours through Timesheets.  

“Tim said that he couldn’t pay me all at once, and that I would get [the full payment] in two different checks. Then a weekend went by and I still didn’t get the money…. Then, he said ‘Well, we can’t get it to you now. It’ll probably end up coming at the end of the semester, you know, past the end of the semester’… and I was like, okay, but I worked for it already. And I should have been paid for it already. So why do I have to wait? And he just said that that’s how the system worked. It was the pay period, there’s no other way to do it.” 

Shoulders would receive her two payments at the beginning and end of June, respectively. By then, the delay in compensation had already impacted her travel plans and turned many things upside down.   

“It also just weighed heavily on my mental [state]. Like, it’s so hard to focus on just school and you’ve got so many financial issues going on, just to go back to work and have hope that they’re going to pay you eventually. So, it definitely impacted my mental state. I was really lucky to have a good support system around me when all that was happening.” 

~   

Moving further into this issue, it came up that this isn’t just a problem contained to the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Students in other jobs around campus also have similar issues with being paid on time. 

Pamela-Rayëlle Barais, Junior in Political Science, works as a Student Social Media Coordinator at the Center for Community Action and Research (CCAR) and has been experiencing issues with being paid on time for multiple on-campus jobs along the academic year.  

Last semester, she was supposed to receive a stipend for her work as a student co-chair for Social Justice Week 2023. “Once I had made an account [within payroll], the system would always have an error when I tried to sign in. When everything was completed, the process to receive the stipend took forever. I was emailing HR to get updates and I would always be told that I would receive one, but I never did.” Barais said. 

After another email inquiry last month, Barais finally received payment for being a student co-chair on March 1st, 2024. It didn’t end here, though — “Unfortunately, I don’t get paid for this job until March 16th because I wasn’t put in the system until mid February… HR and other payroll employees do not communicate issues well enough.”  

Barais continues — “I think the reality of going to this expensive university and not getting paid by them or not having these payment issues communicated well enough is really what impacted me. There was this whole thing before the Fall Semester with Financial Aid where they kept contacting me about payments…. So, the school can flood my emails to pay them, but when I email the school to pay me for a job on their campus, it’s a problem?” 

“It’s the fact that I, as well as many other students, pay so much to go here and we can’t even get paid on time for the jobs that we apply for. Being able to get opportunities at school where you can be paid is so important, especially as college students. As student employees, we deserve to get paid on time with no complications.” 

Unfortunately, Barais was not paid on the 16th and further awaits her check from the CCAR office.

The question remains; does Pace University take their student workers for granted? Problems with student wages have been prevalent for a long time now, and it seems that having a smooth experience with an on-campus job is a rarity. 

Is this a specific issue, as the majority of the Peer Mentors in Fall Semester had difficulties getting paid on time – if they were even paid at all? Or is it the slow communication HR provides students when joining payroll and running into trouble in the process? 

When reaching out to HR to answer queries, Associate Director of Talent Inquisition Taylor Gillhouse declined requests for a phone interview.    

Regardless of where the issue originates, students should be compensated the way it was communicated on paper — and one paycheck to make up for the expected semester of biweekly payments is unacceptable. Those who were supposed to advocate for these mentors fell short on their job, which reflects back onto the university. This cannot be the standard Pace University Pleasantville sets for the next generation of Setters. 

 

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